tv Book Discussion on Seymour Hersh CSPAN April 25, 2014 9:46pm-11:09pm EDT
you to believe that i'm a pessimist and the truth of the matter is that i'm not. i think there's a lot of hope for the future and part of that hope springs from my understanding of history and that is that god always works for a remnant. there is a continuous cycle throughout history of decline and recovery. one story that i find encouraging which i would like to share with the in closing is the story of the battle of britain which probably many of you know. the battle of britain began in august 1940 when the germans lufafa started great written. they started bombing great written in part because hitler wanted to invade britain and new new -- day after day they were real air force went against the lufafa and we now know with the hindsight of history with what hitler's plans were from his
directive 16 and i'm going to just get down to the last paragraph. the english air force must have been beaten down to such an extent morally that it could no longer muster any power of attack worth mentioning against the german cross but what we know is the english air force was not beaten down, that despite tremendous destruction there were a air force exhibited tremendous determination by the way of love that picture because do you see the dog running after the airplane? that humanizes that picture of debt. we also know against overwhelming odds the royal air force did not exactly prevailed against the lufafa that they were able to battle the lufafa to stalemate in the battle of britain which ended up ending in october of 1940. the leadership made the difference. winston churchill was one of the most dramatic figures in 20th
century history said this you may recall about the battle of britain and specifically the raf fighters who went up day after day tracy said never before in the annals of valor has so much been owed by so many to so few. when i started studying this battle more closely when i read a biography of churchill a discovered something that for some reason i didn't know before and that was that the raf at that time only had 2000 pilots. it was only 2000 pilots that went up every day against the full mind of the german lufafa. when i found out the number gave me a lot of encouragement. i believe that journalism is the air war of our time so while it is tempting to become discouraged in the face of some of the statistics i might've shared with you there's a lot of them and so few of us i continue
to believe that while we may give you a number with god's help it wouldn't be enough so thank you very much for your attention today. thank you john and the heritage foundation for hosting me. i look forward to having lunch with some of you and hanging out for the next hour. thank you. [applause] >> yes we mentioned we do have copies of the 25th anniversary edition of "prodigal press". there are more books in the lobby. thank you for joining us in for an excellent presentation and you for your attendance. we will see you hopefully again in the future, very soon from now. thank you. >> you some independent scientists look at monsanto's corn after was on the market and found the gene that was silent was switched on and that gene produces an allergen called
gamma scene so you may have an allergic reaction in some of you may die from eating corn that is genetically engineered unlabeled as containing an allergen but the process of genetic engineering created a to switch on of the dormant gene and the change of 43 of their genes as well as changes in the shape of proteins. monsanto's soy has a sevenfold increase, up to sevenfold increase in the known allergen. this wasn't intended. this was the background side effects of the process of genetic engineering, the process used to create this soy and corn that we eat. >> we are world health organization. american medical association, no problem with gmo's. are all of these part of the conspiracy that people with no scientific training is suddenly uncovered and telling us about and if that isn't enough for you here once of other crustaceans. these are not organizations with some scientific sounding name.
this is protective organizations. in europe which is anti-gmo and australia and all over the world and the epa which we pay attention to when it comes to global work warning or something like that. they say would not pose a reasonable risk to human health and the environment and i could come up with dozens of these.
i grew up and in worked for a number of years across the bay on staten island and we would take the staten island ferry across the harbor for big events and there was a big moment for us to go into the city. this to us always with the city and it's still the city and it's city and it's great to be here in new york city the world's greatest city. it's also great to be here at what i consider to be the world's greatest library in new york hoblick library. i'm sure we would get some dispute on that from london and the library of congress but i'm sticking with it. i'm also sticking with this. i thank you for joining me here tonight to hear about the world's greatest investigative reporter seymour hersh, the scoop artist.
i see a lot of friends and former students and the rest of you i don't know but i suspect you may be here because you are part of a legion of fans and maybe some of you are enemies of seymour hersh. he has a huge following of friends and a huge following of enemies. a number of years ago "the new yorker" magazine beside hirsh worked for many years for a decade when over the million marc in circulation and david remnick the editor of "new yorker" magazine asked how did you get to 1 million he chuckled and said well we have cited hirsh and that push them over the million marc. thank you all for being here tonight. i also want to thank the new york public library deborah hirsh and my former student for interviewing. i spent what should my academic career across the street at the new york public library three to
1985 in the mid-1980s i was working on my doctoral dissertation on a famous turn-of-the-century american reporter named david gray phillips. phillips was a well-known muckraking journalist and wrote 27 novels. across the street was the only place i could go to read all of his 27 novels. then in the year 2004 i wrote a book on a guy named charles edward russell. charles edward russell was very much like sy hersh a muckraking journalist very indignant at conditions and wrote scoop after scoop in story after story and many of his stories appeared in magazines which you can't find anywhere at all. the only place i could find those magazines was across the street at the new york public library. then when i went to work on seymour hersh i didn't think i would need the new york public library. hersh's books are available.
he worked for seven years for "the new york times" and it's easy to get access to his stories. a decade but "the new yorker" it's easy to get access to his new yorker story so i didn't think i would need the new york public library. when he worked for "the new york times" his editor was a man named abe rosenthal a towering figure in american journalism and when abe died a couple of years ago his wife gave his papers and all of this memo's and letters and many of the documents yet compiled gave them to the new york public library. there was an archive of the new york public library across the street and i spent a lot of time at our cash -- archive. right across the street at the new york public library so it's
a wonderful library and understand the copy of "scoop artist" is sitting at the archive on display and the archivists were always efficient and wonderful and i appreciate the efforts of "the new york times" in doing that and hope to get back to that archive. lastly let me just thank dana sedona for in choosing me. dana was a student of mine at the college of new paltz. dana was in a student. i particularly appreciate about dana that she would always laugh at my jokes. what you need to do is be looking towards dana and if she laughs than what i than what i have just said is supposed to be funny and that is your cue. you're supposed to laugh when dana laughs so dana think you've are introduced to me. last may let be welcome c-span here tonight and thank them for coming here to talk and to hear me talk about seymour hersh the "scoop artist."
who is this man i call the "scoop artist"? sy hersh, seymour hersh, seymour myron hersh born in 1937 in chicago to immigrant parents. his father owned a dry cleaner, had a dry cleaning business in chicago and his mother was a housekeeper. he went to public school in chicago. he went for two years to community college and then went to the university of chicago law school. i'm sorry university chicago and got a degree in history and then he started law school brady didn't do very well. law school and side hurst didn't get along very well in very well and he failed in less than a year. sy hersh is the man most people regard as the best investigative reporter in history. he is the man who has won more awards and prizes than any other journalist. he is an icon and a hero to hundreds of american journalists he is the darling of the political left. he's the man the political right
loves to despise and demonize. he's the man who back in 1969 revealed to us the massacre by american soldiers of 500 civilians in a small village in vietnam. he's the man who very much often overlooked, the man who single-handedly got the next administration to ban the production and stop piling up biological weapons, one of his early wonderful achievements that is still held. we will see some of his achievements have been held in some of his achievements have faded as conditions have change in the world. he's the man who in 1975 revealed to a startled nation that the central intelligence agency in direct violation of law was tapping the phones and opening the mail of american citizens. why do you not look surprised by
that? some things never change. think nsa, think edward snowden. sy hersh was telling us about the ways of american government and getting viciously attacked for by the way back in 1975. today it was edward snowden and in 1975 all the he went to seymour hersh after scoop on the cia. he's the man whose book revealed and showed us the dark underside of the nixon administration book called the price of power kissinger in the nixon white house. he showed us thousands of deaths that took place under the administration of nexus and henry kissinger. he's the man who in 1990s showed us the dark aside yet of the john kennedy white house in a book called ,-com,-com ma a book about the dark side of the white house and i'm blanking on the name. the dark side of camelot.
the obama administration after obama was elected called david redd and say call your man off and tell him to stop. hurst -- hersh recently said i think there's something wrong that man he was not invited to the state of the union speech tonight. he is known as flies -- sly sy spooky side terrace side and the one i heard so many times from so many people are side can't be trusted or those who said he can hit a homerun with that story. either you love him or hate him. he's one of the great characters in american life. for four decades he begins his
scoops and a work in all 1850s early 1960s and he's been doing what he's been doing for more years than you can imagine. he continues by the way today to be completely and totally indignant and angry at the conditions and thinks he sees around him which separates him from so many journalist. he's one of the great characters and the stories about him are legion and legendary pretties clearly won one of the top-tier figures in american life. when biographers take a look at who is great of american presidents would look at supreme court justices and aboard winning actors and actresses. we need to look at seymour hersh who has been a premier journalist in america for four decades previously great character in two ways. he broke so many of the rules of ethics in journalism that's probably why he gets so many of the stories in them. so many people. he blusters blusters and black
males and make so many people angry and i will tell you in the second part of the eli story. in that sense he is infuriating to so many people because of the way he goes about getting his stories. on the other hand he is heroic. fearless in defatigable, going to places that no one else will go. no one would read write eli story and other people knew the story but sy hersh decided that was the story that had to be written and got it and wrote it. no one would write the israelis have nuclear weapons and they have refused to have international sanctions on my weapons. hersh wrote that story and made a lot of people very furious. he he is harassed blinded maverick. he's outspoken and impressive. that's a snapshot of my guy seymour hersh the scoop artist. i've been trying to figure out
exactly what i could do for you tonight here and i thought i would try to dupe to things of my talk. first scoop artist came out in october. i've been doing talks and interviewinterview s and a number of questions come up repeatedly and maybe i will get ahead of summit or questions. some of the questions i would like to answer tonight our number one is he the greatest american investigative journalist? this someone else why will him or are their rivals to seymour hersh and secondly to the corporate and they writing of this biography? is this an authorized book? what is it about sy hersh and this book that perhaps resonates today? what does he think of revelations were leaking of material by edward snowden clinics where has hersh been for the last two years. where has he been? as he retired? the answer to that is absolutely
not. he's working on a book on the cheney bush administration and he was just about to publish and thought he was close finishing it and somebody dropped as they often do dropped a trove of documents that indicated to him the covert, intelligence activitieactivitie s that took place during the bush years had extended into the obama year so he had to keep going and is now working on that. he will be back soon and i suspect it will be big headlines. the other thing i thought i could do besides answer those questions is this. one other question i would like to answer and that is the question of will we ever see the likes of the seymour hersh again in the age of the internet in bits and pieces of information and? can we expect to see someone again like the scoop artist? the other thing i thought it would do for you tonight is tell you about what's not in the book
about chasing sy hersh. i've been on this book for probably 10 years or so although my interest goes way back beyond that. so i thought i could talk about my six years of chasing the great muckraking journalist sy hersh. when did i first start chasing sy hersh? hersh becomes an international well-known person in 1969. in 1969 he is a freelance journalist. his phone number by the way both his home and office phone number of publicly listed and he calls himself a clearinghouse for tipsters all over the country and every person who has a tip on the story picks up the phone and calls by hersh and you will get him. he will listen to you and he will dismiss you as he did with me any times also. he gives a a tip in the tip is
simple. the united states government in fort benning georgia is holding a soldier in the soldier has been accused of either ordering or killing a number of civilians in vietnam. to her she said the story smells like it's true. he begins to call washington and kanke confirmation the story. no one will will confirm it's true until finally someone says the story is true. he has a lawyer and the lawyer's name is latimer and he's in salt lake city utah. he says i'm coming out there. he gets on a plane flies out to salt lake city. latimer begins to talk to him and they have a conversation. he loves and he says to the guy your guys been accused of killing 200, 250 and 50 civilians and latimer says no, no it's only 111. he got the famous sy hersh love
which is amazing how many generals were fooled by this technique that he used time and time again. he gets a story confirmed, hops on a plane and flies to fort benning georgia. fort benning georgia is an interesting place one of the huge as military bases in the country. 100,000 -- 140,000 acres. 75,000 soldiers there in a daily basis and sy hersh walks into the base and he says i have to find william callan. it's like looking for a needle in haystack. they would immediately hauled him up and they would never see callie said he had to scope around the base to find william calley. he begins to start in the morning and starts knocking on doors for has anybody seen
kallie? william calley. i'm looking for william calley. he called the telephone operators and is trying to get a the phone number for calley. he poses as a lawyer and he walks in and they think he's a lawyer and immediately stop talking. they are trying to look for where he is located. he convinces someone on the base to steal scalise file. he gives his address and this goes on all day long. literally 27 or 8:00 in the night he has yet to find calley. it's late at night and he's totally exhausted and has been having drinks with different soldiers trying to get them to talk and finally one soldier says hey hersh rusty calley, seymour hersh. he finds them after 12 hours of searching. i talk to people who should by
all rights have hated seymour hersh and yet they talk to seymour hersh and trusted him. here's rusty calley this guy from florida whose life and background was totally foreign and million to seymour hersh but they hit it off. he convinces callie calley let's go back to your apartment. they buy a couple of steaks and get a bottle of urban. they go to his girlfriend's apartment and cook the steaks and they get drunk together and halley tells him the story. the story is horrible. basically american soldiers, he is accused of killing 111. they rounded up civilians in this village and they put them in it ditch and shot them and killed them. a young child crawled out from under his mother and try to run away and calley grabbed his gun and shot and killed the young child.
hersh gets the story. he goes back to washington and he writes two books not only on the massacre but on the cover-up by the government trying to cover up the massacre and he becomes an international hero. the story literally makes worldwide headlines across the world. everyone knows the me lie is her her -- me lie to grin everyone knows sy hersh. i was 19 years old this point in time a sophomore in college. i remember me live but i don't think i'd connected with it. it was too distant for me. in 1974 i got a masters degree in journalism. i was more adjusted in pursuing the world of journalism and
people like seymour hersh. 1974 was a big year for americans the year richard nixon resigns as president the year that many people believe he was toppled by reporters from the "washington post" paul bernstein and woodford. bob woodward was corporative in the making of this book and i talked to him and i kept thinking as i talk to him it doesn't look like redford at all. he said bob, i'm sorry about that but bob was helpful and very cooperative in the making of this book. where was i? it's 1974 and like hundreds of others of my generation my age i go into journalism because we have the sense that we can save the world. journalism is going to be this progress a place where we can make wonderful things happen and of course we are looking for role models.
the person i began to look at his seymour hersh. of course woodward and bernstein but also seymour hersh. he was a different kind of journalist even then woodward and bernstein. i wasn't alone by the way in my admiration and looking at him as a rock star of american journalism. the pulitzer prize-winning journalist who worked for the new york times told me he came to a journalism conference in new york city in the early 1970s. he said the keynote speaker was seymour hersh. he was like a rock star. everyone wanted to be like seymour hersh. i began to take an interest in seymour hersh. that interest is piqued by the fact that in december of 1974 he broke the story that some people think was the story of the decade and that story was pretty simple and resonates today. hersh found out the american
central intelligence agency was in direct violation of law opening the mail of american citizens and tapping their phones. the cia was a lot to that but only in europe. they had crossed over and infuriated the of the eye by doing an hersh finds out about the story. he was nervous about the story because he couldn't get a piece of paper or document. spies don't put the stuff on paper but he had a lot of sources including possibly the director of the federal intelligence agency. he writes the story in december of 1974 page one of the new york times causes a huge outcry a huge fear and the ford administration denies it. hersh is hung out to dry for six months and everyone simply says it didn't happen. he probably should've won the pulitzer prize but the pulitzer jury said he didn't have a ride
it all. we find that six months later he not only had it right but underestimated the amount of dossiers. the government compiled thousands of documents and dossiers on american citizens. they were trying to find out about terrorists and were following them from europe to america. hersh breaks this source. i'd barely remember that story and that had my interest. then in 1975 he breaks another story less important but a terrific story. the story, here's the story. the soviet union had a submarine that was in the pacific ocean and for reasons that are not clear something happen with the sub and the sub sank to the bottom of the pacific ocean. hundreds of sailors and russian soviet sailors were killed.
it's sad at the bottom of the ocean. the soviet technology was not good enough to know where it was. they couldn't find them but our technology was good enough and we knew exactly where it was and we hatch this plot that we would send a huge troller called the glow marks below are -- glomar explorer. ..
>> my the early show and tell here. this story has been sitting around in my folders at home for 40 years. cia but that part of the soviet southwest, there it is. i'm beginning to chase. had this sitting in my files for many years. in the same year, 1975 he was becoming so famous for some many of his groups. rolling stone magazine decides to do a 2-part interview. the toughest reporter in america a hollywood screenwriter, and they do this 2-part series interview with seymour hersh, the toughest reporter in america
accept this. by the way, that those were done by hand the leibowitz. the cover of the book is actually a photograph taken at that point in time when she was working, not as well-known, of course, working for rollins to of rolling stone magazine. one of the pictures, one of the photos is of a typewriter on the stairs with one of his children and his wife. as you will see, what i've described, trying to get he and his family to talk, he was terribly upset when he knew i would be using this photograph. i call them until the. is it -- it is a great shot. goddamnit. you are not using that. he is very private. thirty-five, 40 years ago ibm to
look at seymour hersh. at leave journalism and go up to a the college of new paul, 70 miles north. and i began to teach journalism. from 1983 at a call from his agent. he had two careers, one as a journalist and one as a lecturer . he wanted to come to the college to give a lecture. of course, he was on a lecture tour. when he is broke he goes and gives talks. hopefully at the college of newport. he needs to come up with $2,000. he had just written a very big book on henry kissinger called kissinger in the nixon white house. this is the vicious attack. it probably prevented kissinger from becoming secretary of state again in the reagan administration, which she very much wanted.
when this book came out it was very much over for his injured. the book was published but had not yet come up. and it came out and become a best seller. he did a thousand interviews for it. so before the book comes out we book him. he is hot as a pistol and comes to the college of new falls, the fall of 1983. >> i wanted to read just one short section from the book that describes his visit to the college. i think from where it begins to capture his personality. i first met seymour hersh in the fall of '85. 70 miles from new york city near the hudson river where i've taught journalism. located in the remote part of
the 257-acre campus, and i hope he could find me. schedules for an afternoon workshop and arrived 15 minutes before showtime. a tough place to find. welcome my answer i figured you could find fort benning, you can find my office. he shuffled his feet and looked away and said, that was a long time ago. sixteen years since he tracked down the notorious william kelly . i tell them how my wife and investigative reporter or reach some much each time she published. we'll worry, he said. we're out there all alone. his book on kissinger was meeting protest. sued him for $50 million, although it ultimately was resolved in the favor of seymour hersh. i could not in to discuss journalistic techniques. he wanted to talk about the cia, intelligence gathering, richard
nixon. he did not want to talk about reporting, only what he had uncovered. like all the great journalists his passion was reserved for the issues. before his evening lecture the college president hosted a dinner at their home. inventing the spread to the vice-president and local officials. the law school dropout, celebrity, a fracking celebrity as he called himself. one guest was alan sharpton them a political science professor, a well-known personality of radio stations that he ran from albany. first, seymour hersh liked the man. they proceeded to argue over dinner. when he left for dinner seymour hersh said to me, who is that little prick? i explained committee is a influential person politics.
it intimidates, leaving enemies everywhere egos. is part of his style and success . the evening lecture went better. he had his notes on three small cards tucked in his pocket but spoke without them the assailing the moralities of the nixon era from vietnam to watergate. for many people seymour hersh was a hero whom they applauded frequently. monday evening talk was over and he answered many questions and received a standing ovation i escorted him back to his car staying in a dingy hotel before heading home the next day. i miss my family, he says, as he left campus referring to his wife, three children. i did not speak to seymour hersh
again for more than 20 years as he produced five more books, a few documentary films and dozens of articles. >> i can't i ain't seymour hersh he was constantly in the headlines, anyone who was interested in journalism and investigative journalism could not miss seymour hersh. he made headlines in the new york times. the work from 72-79. he still did freelance stuff and work for the new york times. and in 1986 -- you remember them named noriega. he was the president of panama, sometimes called the panamanian thug.
three presidential administrations, three administrations had him on their payroll, and he was supporting american policy but also running drugs, guns, killing his opponents. he finds out about this and writes it in a page-one story in the new york times. panama strongman said to trade in drugs, arms, and illicit money. i know i am particularly appealing to 0-they have to do something because of the top of my thing here is says hersh file which meant that was beginning to us fill a file on this in one fell. in the 80,004i wrote a biography of a now forgotten but once very
famous american journalists, charles edward russell. he was a bit like seymour hersh. known as the muckraking journalist. i do his biography and then trying to figure out, what comes next. of course, what begins to come to mind stimulus seymour hersh. russell was dead. i was only able to find one person who knew him, but he wrote a biography of someone who is dead and it is in some ways easier. you don't have to worry about offending them, making contacts, where they are. you know where they are. on the other hand it is meant -- very frustrating. you just don't know what happened. you would love to pick up the phone and say, so common in 1906 when he wrote that article and they threatened, what happens?
you do not have that luxury domestic with his word, memoirs, letters, the written record. when you work on a biography of someone who is a live there are wonderful possibilities and real disadvantages. the wonderful possibility is that you can talk to the person command as they talk to you you can get him to turn over letters cannot tell you exactly what happened then hit the back story, the inside story and have the possibility of his world opening up to you. on the other hand, you run the risk of being accused of writing an authorized biography. i knew that seymour hersh would never admire anyone who wanted to write anything that was authorized. he told stuff from all over the place that never asked permission. as a biographer i knew i could
never win his respective i had to ask his permission. i knew i had to try to talk to him and see if i could possibly get in to talk. a couple of years ago walter isaacson rode a good biography of the apple computer do, steve jobs and sat down with them for a number of interviews. faq astaire we attacked. how can you trust? what if you have to criticize the person you're writing about. they are cooperating. do you need their permission? i was cut its way wanting to talk to seymour hersh. so i decided that i have to call seymour hersh and let them know what i intended to do. i touched the literally hundreds of people and knew that one sight of the first person they would immediately call sey hersh
and he would know i was writing the book. wasn't to know it from me and not somebody else. okay. but if you know sey hersh, you call him. he says, you got enough. goodbye, and he hangs out. an aide to try to explain myself. i have you remember me from our short time together. i wrote him a registered letter. some of you probably don't even know what a registered letter is, but it's close to him. i give the cabbie with his signature on it saying that he received it. i write in a registered letter. he was writing stories away the last ten days in two weeks. i said, well, state university of new york. i got the letter. one hundred injured agree whether.
did not come to my office, had to walk to the post office. i was sweating bullets. great beginning. then i explained, i would like to write your biography. it has been an incredible body of work silence. then he said to my map bucking dead. a cape. away we go. i recovered quickly. the whole world knows the you're not dead -- dead. then he tell me what he really thought. a very sorry. he says, -- the year 2004, and so the sons of this is out of the white house there is no way that i have time to sit down and talk about myself. his words, not going to masturbate myself and public. i hate when people ask me what i think. my opinion means nothing. it's my fact, story, filmmakers
have wanted to do my story. i have never cooperated falwell never cooperate. he said to my sister of this big cargo, spent the last week killing all of the country giving interviews. i have to get back to work. i am not going to sit down and talk to you. he wished me luck. final standoff. always hoping that at some point he might decide it was time to sit down, talk, and he would give me his time to read it never came we developed an interesting relationship overtime. when i needed to get information , especially when working on his early life camauro years dry up or early years of the associated press in chicago and new york, a legendary place called the city
near -- news bureau in chicago. tough to find as much information as i needed, but he was useful. he would answer three or four questions in and say, you have enough committed by. this went on for quite awhile, but it worked out and was useful. a began to e-mail overtime. five minutes, attendance, an hour, two hours. i know that there is a huge fbi cra has a file on seymour hersh. the way the law is written right now, until he is that i cannot request that i can get it. only he can. right : rhoden said, why don't you ask for your file. not interested. don't give a shed. of his words. at one point in time i was trying to track his parents, mother, father, poland the lithuanian immigrants came to
america through the port of boston with it went right to chicago trying to fight the -- track the family interests that. i did not have his mother's maiden name. i could not call him. if i said, okay. what is your mother's maiden name. his answer was, it's on the public record. you find it. not going to get to from now one. and he wrote his book on henry kissinger it was a vicious attack on kissinger, major american public figure. he only wants responded to the book. he said, it is a pack of slimy lies. the average time he ever commented, the heirs, problems come when i went to the new york public library archive and there was a 20 page memo from henry kissinger detailing every single
complaint and problem he had. only -- the only time i ever saw in greece to the specific responses was called out for response. i wrote, tell them that i had. do you want to see it, comments? his answer was, yesterday's news. i don't give a share. did not give an answer. that is the way that it went in our conversations. short, short of the responses. sometimes direction can't talk to this person, that person. and also found that time is that i knew more about the word from 30 years ago that he did i was stygian stuff from 30, 40 years ago. at one point in time i heard a
tape. he told the fascinating story. he had a housekeeper and sells. the housekeeper was taking care of this house and children. telephone call. the person tells the housekeeper exactly where the three children were at that moment and tells her exactly where the children of sey hersh or at that moment, clearly a threat. he has said the number of threats. he said this to a group of investigative reporters. they call them up and said, trying to get more detail to what year it was. every morning he would get up and start his wife's car not knowing what would happen.
asked, i don't talk of the securities to of. and never would discuss that. he said in a you're kidding me. me and my big mouth. at times i was finding stuff that he did not even quite remember. in 1968 he crossed over for a short time and became the public relations person for eugene mccarthy, a senator from minnesota who in 1967 decided to take on a sitting president of the united states, lyndon johnson on the vietnam war and said that he would attack. he hated the press secretary and became the press secretary. it finally quit. he wanted mccarthy to go into the black and red in milwaukee.
mccarthy says, it is not my style. i won't do would. when he quit it ended up on page one of the new york times, but i don't know how would recreate this time. interesting, fascinating. accused of three things. to many anonymous sources, he is not reliable. no reliable because you worked for eugene mccarthy. we all know what his politics are. this is an abortion chapter. the university of minnesota who had the mccarthy papers right after the campaign ended did these histories and went out and interviewed everybody worked for eugene mccarthy. there was a two-hour interview with seymour hersh about what took place. working for eugene mccarthy and needing money to promote the
campaign. as a hotel room. and paul newman, a supporter of eugene mccarthy. and he asked for the money. the fat cat says, no. they're getting closer and closer. he has to jump up, a tackle one of them to the ground. there is paul newman's separating hersh. so i go and tell us about this archive. i said that it? i gave an interview like that? my god, i have a big mouth. what i was beginning to find was very often i new stuff that he did not remember. and so it went. the biggest test of the ad was over access to his family.
to older system -- sisters, twins. a twin brother, allen. as everyone said, if you really want to know, you have to get to his twin brother. i have never really given interviews. now he was in northern california. the wife and i were scheduled. his brother was thrilled to hear from them. and then cy intervened. his biggest was who gives a damn about what i was like when i wore short pants and chicago. beyond that, nothing about my work. the book, why should you talk to my brother? well, that is actually a silly question. the most -- it would be great to
know about the parents, the household. round and round. he really wanted to. he had a ton sister lives in nearby and northern the jersey. i intervened and that interview never happened. i wrote a letter to his wife, although i was quite clear that i would never be allowed to talk to his wife. he told me early on that is not going to happen. it would have been wonderful to talk to his wife. imagine in the kinds of things i would have liked task. elizabeth, married to the same woman for many years, a social worker, met her in chicago, decided to go to medical school, working in washington to move
the family to new york, went to medical school. i think it would be wonderful. can you tell me, what was it like in 1969 after you wrote the blonde massacre story. consistently at three in the morning and threatened to cut off your husband's private parts what was that like? what was it like to live with this girl who would get up at five in the morning to lobby on the phone by 6:00 with united states senators, this memoir, the powerful democratic united states senator and say to my heard you call me and six in the morning. i will be in my of examines. well was a light, the sky news service day as six in the morning. at 11:00 at night still the and in his room of the washington sheraton -- washington bureau of the new york times surrounded by
the document. trying to convince people to talk to him. if this thing would have liked to ask her, and this is an interesting part of the time in new york. the cows for two years, 1978 and '79. seven years working for the new york times and as to, major big projects. one is on the owner of paramount and the new york knicks and rangers, the investigation. the of the investigation is a guy named sidney in most people do not know about. he should not look at a veto of the early out as the godfather. he was, by all accounts, the godfather, a mob lawyer, union lawyer the big, powerful guy in the head to make things happen.
and he begins to techno. of course he once to talk. live me read one quick cigna. >> and los angeles and simply picked up the phone and called. i'm here. now want sealed. he says to my won't adding : let me ask you a question. helen never forget this, whether you doing? you learn expert in mass murder lower rate above crimes are people dead and bodies all over. why you're writing about me? you break above murder. a wire you interested in me.
the back to the blood in the killing in the blood in the killing and the door and all the you're right about, not about me he remembered it vividly. he never said a word that was threatening flood of the whole context was murder, murder, blood, murder. it set me on edge and was chilling. i would have liked to ask to know what was it like when that happened. in new york cooking hamburgers for kids when i fell and when they get a phone call, and the person on the phone said get out of your apartment, house, go to a phone booth and,. you cannot trust your phone. look, someone at the new york times has leaked all your phone records and all the bills you have been submitting. then everyone you're talking to, every phone call you are making. you're in danger.
it think the wife might have said, stop. not going to happen. i never spoke to is live. finally i went to washington d.c., as his will to interviewed bob woodward who was very cooperative and pleasant and useful. he had been friendly rivals. that those kind of jockeying over is the greatest investigative reporter in american history. of course they both think it is each other cover that has been an interesting debate for many years. i was in washington, maybe the edges show up at the door. there a was. he had just come in to work. he spent a couple of hours. he was pleasant. would not talk about himself. he wants to talk about policy, the state of journalism.
he said, sticking to what i said i will not sit down for any time to talk about myself. i am not the story. it is not allow me. what i write about. i am not the person you should be focusing on. we left friendly. he stuck to his guns and never really sat down and tell me put this book deal of oil last conversations were over one of the questions of began with. the last conversations were about what he is up to today. what is the up to today. he is working on a very big book dick cheney, george bush, barack obama, a covert intelligence.
he was close to writing the book when someone drop this trove of documents in his lap. he had to expand the scope. it is worse than we ever tugboat the book is gone from just being about pushed to obama, and i suspect some we will see headlines and sey hersh going across the country printing his latest tax was about the bush, obama foreign policy. what does it did with the revolutions of the leaking of material by edward snowden? he has been the recipient of leaks like this for many years. if anyone knows what is like to be friends with fantastic resources of reformation, you read a sey hersh story. a lot of my name to people who usually turn out to be right, but he said about at lord
snowden, he broke the law. he will have to be prosecuted him but have to tell you, he is change the nature -- nature of the discussion today which makes me think about sey hersh. the heat right now is on snowden when he wrote about the cia, 1975, he lost three congressional elections, the assassination as a technique of foreign policy. he has brought about more changes in american life. the story did not alter the course of the vietnam war will -- boat was one of aquino's in the coffin, a tremendously important public opinion turning point in the vietnam war. a major, major important figure for many years.
his face into whether this. a member are relevant. one of the release strategies -- elements, he was one of the first people, the seminal root to be writing about chemical and biological weapons. credibly potent and secret weapons that they simply have taken for granted and pointed out that america had made a change in its policy. instead of saying that we would respond with chemical and biological weapons, we will use these as a weapon of the press
or the potential power of the press. he has been responsible for kicking off some of the greatest and most important stories and reforms of american life. when woodward and bernstein were having trouble with the watergate story, it is very possible that would have stalled and nixon would have gone on to continue to be president and the new york times forced seymour hersh to get on to the story. he get them ahead, rose stories that without sey hersh to would not have been able to do. it welcome to. ward said that hersh is like the marines to the first one on the beach, takes the heavy hits, and then we all follow. he gave us the unvarnished look at the bush of restoration after
the 9/11 attacks. after his book on john kennedy hersh was considered to be washed up, done, over. he had begun to work a little bit on the mideast, and then the 9/11 attacks happened. he was backing his car out of his driveway and got a call. we know what you will be doing for the next year, working on the cia, the bush administration and the middle east and then gave us over four years the best look at what was going on in the release that you could find anywhere in all. hersh has been for many years what a journalist should be allowed perahia, constantly in demint, an independent source of affirmation, someone who gets below the surface, behind closed doors and tells of what -- tells
us what things are really like. after the of the great story appeared there was a protest in london. of those girl was at this protest held -- holding a sign which said protect seymour hersh , the last independent journalist in the world. is he really the greatest american investigative reporter? i think it is an apples and oranges comparison what lord tells us inside stories from the top command access to the halls of power and those of the people of the top by thinking and doing and have done. that is fine and dandy and useful. the problem is with it until as the tooth. from his point of view many
people at the mental to the metal, bottom and the people who really tell us what happens. in some ways it is mr. insider versus mr. outsider. i don't think that will ever change. will we ever see the likes of a seymour hersh artist again? i am optimistic, although obviously there have been tremendous changes. we have lost hundreds and hundreds of journalists, investigative journalism still thrives. you will see that there is this whole world of investigative journalism. the question is, will anyone ever do what seymour hersh has done? at think the reason is, i cannot see anyone being as indignant or as angry as he has been for 40
years. still continues to having your at the conditions. number one, closing segments. and here is what fuels them. the word borrowed the unabashed and describing what he thinks is the job of the reporter. if you follow the arc of his career, i have been at this for 40 years but still consider myself as a newspaperman it's such an import business. you have to hold the people at the top to the highest possible
standards, the right to send their sons and daughters to die. the same things the so valuable in our personal lives and family lives, we don't want to lie. we want trust in the relationship. this gives us a chance to hold the highest people to the highest standards, put your finger in their eye. it is a great way to spend your life. i have been chasing for 25, 30 years for last six years. it has been a great way for me to spend the last six years. a man who is one of the heroic speakers in american life, he has many enemies, probably many flaws. this is a man has to los more about realities in america than any american analysts ever in american history.
when pete seeger died last night and i was reading some comments this morning from bruce things -- bruce springsteen. madison square garden, the living archive of america's music and conscience, a testament to the power of song and culture and stability. i thought about that. substituting in that sentence, a living archive of americans journalism and confidence in the ability of journalism. from the is been a great way to spend the last six years of my life and that thank you all for joining me here tonight to say listen. [applause]
>> we will open up to questions. >> thank you for your talk. i just want to get clear on this . i am 53, so i barely remember i do remember having -- it was discussed at school, wasn't it that * you published the story? it is interesting. that was a freelance journalist. look magazine turned it down, life magazine turned it down. the "washington post" would not run it. an agent was able to syndicate
this to a number of 35 newspapers. and when they published the freelance peace and everyone got on board. it was not until 60 minutes -- he brought to 60 minutes while the soldiers from the massacre and put them on air. when that appeared and it was published, the story really took off. no one wanted the story. and as the foremost scholar, is it possible what is more likely it is my had taken in ten to 50 years. there would have quietly prosecuted to apply to some lesser offense, made them go off and never talk about it, and it would have been ten years before some historian dug up the story.
it might have been very different. the story would have come out, but not at that point in time. there are others who knew about the atrocities and something in his makeup that made him pursue the story. he went into dangerous sounds. when he wrote the story very few people were happy. it either did not happen to may lied about it, and even if it happened he should not have written it. those attacks have continued for 40 years. >> i was wondering, this is more of a general question. if you think that the threat against journalists is more substantial than it used to be, legally, physically from
executive secrets and things that -- and leo processing as whistleblowers, in some cases the hypothetical physical pressures and threats from the government and higher-ups'. >> the threat to journalism today is simply to stay in business. the real problem is that it has so rapidly changed because of the internet, and the real problem for the investigative reporter is to find the time and the mine to be able to do there work. many publications have cut back. i'm not sure we're getting any more threats in terms of sources or legal aspects, lawsuits by down in terms of lawsuits against journalists. life sciences the threat is to continue to build a have the money and resources to do our job. now, if you get them to turn out
three stories day it will take three to six months to write one story. there have been breath of fresh air. that has been funded by nonprofits. that has added new energies. it is also exciting. a tremendous possibility of limited space. you now have, you know, narrative journalism has a lot of new chances, but the real threat today is less and externally, although i do worry their is a threat to democracy. we have the cut brothers. many to correct it. that is worrisome.
>> in march go to those in two or three hersh exposed the yellowcake uranium story in the new yorker in march. a stir when know where until june when it became a scandal in everyone picked it up. >> and not too sure i remember the specifics. obviously it became a bigger issue when ambassador wilson was accused and his wife was out it. i do not remember the details. i am sorry. i cannot help you with that.
>> how did you evaluate his argument. >> the buck does detail, that he would not and is people would not. there was some validity to some of the things he said. things he did not respond to. i was not particularly convinced but he was merely trying to do, that they are times have given tremendous base when his book come out about page one of the they are times, op-ed columnists and two is trying to call off the new york times. this is a memo trying to provide enough evidence to rosenthal and but he was saying that really was you-a look at the facts and you should stop writing about his book.
i was not convinced. one of the people actually sued seymour hersh, and it went to trial in federal court in chicago. when the trial took place kissinger had to testify, the second time he had never testified publicly in the courtroom. something to do with his wife. and he had to take the stand. they have to take the stand. i really would have preferred to never see this man again for the rest of my life he actually won that.
>> can you please tell us, i think seymour hersh said that that generator was fake. >> he did not exactly say that it was fake. what he said was it was overly trumped up by the obama administration and they're is a lot we don't know about exactly what happened. that came in the context of the speech that he was giving about obama. i know that this will be a chapter. that was -- he actually went back on that. he did not say that what happened there was fake. he simply said that it was trumped up a bit more. hersh gets himself in trouble all the time. very careful, cautious, and conservative me and my big mouth
cut into a lot of trouble when he gave speeches but continues. we paid in $2,000. now he is 20, $25,000 a speech. >> you mentioned that your view on the different trends in journalism, the funding is drying out. i wonder, are you familiar with the work of james o'keefe, the more entrepreneurial, lesser known young journalists? >> the question i get a lot, to say that he is the only investigative journalist in america is a disservice. all sorts of names being tossed around as i said, i am pt